Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Organizations CANNOT police themselves: Example from Congress

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Police investigating police misconduct generally don’t find any; banks investigating bank misconduct generally don’t find any; Congress investigating Congressional misconduct usually doesn’t find anything wrong; church officials investigating priest/minister/rabbi/imam sexual misconduct didn’t find any.

For a good investigation, the investigating body must be independent of the group/organization/department being investigated. Although this seems obvious, it is also something that apparent is extremely difficult to grasp or to put into practice.

Matthew Cunnighnam-Cook reports in the Intercept:

LAST DECEMBER, the independent Office of Congressional Ethics released a report concluding that there was “substantial reason” to believe that freshman Rep. Lori Trahan had broken campaign finance laws in the final days of her tight Democratic primary in Massachusetts. OCE then kicked it over to the House Ethics Committee, which is run by a bipartisan panel of Trahan’s colleagues. They’ve now concluded their own investigation, with a starkly different finding: Trahan was cleared — despite not having cooperated with the OCE investigation nor providing key documentation to support her claims.

In 2018, Trahan faced a hotly competitive primary for Massachusetts’ 3rd Congressional District, in the Boston suburbs, which she ultimately won by just 155 votes. In the final days of the campaign, Trahan had deposited $300,000 into her coffers that was classified as a personal loan, which she used to launch a TV blitz that, given the narrow margin, most likely swung the election.

By the time Trahan filed a personal financial statement, her records suggested that she did not have enough assets to have been able to make the loan to her campaign, as revealed by a Boston Globe investigation. Where, then, had the money come from?

Trahan’s critics floated the possibility that her wealthy husband’s companies had financed her last-minute surge, a charge that Trahan called not just preposterous, but sexist. She was asked about the money at a town hall last March, in the wake of the Globe report. “The suggestion that I did not have the personal resources to make that loan to my campaign is just inaccurate,” she said. “There’s a lot of narratives you want to change when you are taking on a run like this, and you’re going back to Congress as one of those 131 women, and that’s one of them, right? That women can start successful businesses, they can earn income, they can have affordable day care, they can get paid the same as men who are doing the same job, and they can make a loan that they can afford to their campaign.” She said that when her next financial disclosure in spring 2019 was revealed, everything would be cleared up.

Alison King, from NBC Boston, put the question to her directly a month later. “Can you categorically deny that your husband helped beyond the $2,700 allowed by law?” she asked.

“Yeah, look,” Trahan said, “the suggestion that I personally did not have the funds is completely inaccurate.”

It is now clear that Trahan was lying. What was ultimately revealed, after a series of corrections made by Trahan and $400,000 in legal advice, was that her husband had shifted assets out of companies he owned into a joint checking account which was then quickly deposited into Trahan’s congressional campaign. That’s not what Trahan’s critics are claiming — that is now her own story.

Yet, earlier this month, the Ethics Committee cleared Trahan by finding that, while the loan had indeed been made out of funds from her husband’s companies, doing so was legal because a prenuptial agreement stipulated that such funds were joint marital property. Trahan’s financial disclosure, however, lists all of the assets her husband used to make the loan as “SP,” for spouse, rather than “JT,” for joint, as she lists other joint property. And the prenup, in fact, stipulates that separate property will remain separate and that “each party waives, discharges, and releases all right, title, and interest in and to the separate property that the other party now owns or acquires after the execution of this Agreement, or acquires from the proceeds of any separate property now owned, including but not limited to any real property which either party may acquire with funds derived from the proceeds of his or her own separate property.” But the prenup also says: “All wages, salary, and income of each party earned or received during marriage, together with all property purchased with such wages, salary and income, shall also be marital property.”

But even if the committee granted that the funds were indeed jointly owned, part of the loan came from a company that was not subject to the prenup. A $50,000 loan made to the campaign by Trahan on June 30, 2018 originated with a company owned by her husband, DCT Development. DCT Development was founded prior to their 2007 marriage and not listed in the prenup as joint property. That was an oversight, Trahan said. “According to Representative Trahan, she and Mr. Trahan intended DCT Development, Granite Rock Businesses, and the income he received from those entities to be marital property under the agreement. Representative Trahan did not provide the Committee with any documentary evidence to support her explanation,” wrote the Ethics Committee in its final report. Federal campaign finance law states that a spouse cannot contribute more than the legal maximum (at the time, $2,700).

Some of the assets used by Trahan’s husband were not his alone. On April 2, 2018, the committee report reveals, Mass Eagle Development LLC deposited $100,000 into David Trahan’s personal account. He lists himself as just a one-third owner of Eagle Development in Lori Trahan’s financial disclosures (which list it as David Trahan’s separate property).

On August 21, David Trahan transferred $200,000 to the joint checking account with his wife. A few weeks earlier, he had drawn $180,900 from Middlesex Land Holdings LLC and $110,000 from Poplar Hill Development LLC. He lists himself as a half-owner of Poplar Hill. . .

Continue reading.

Congress seems more and more to be hopelessly corrupt. The future of the US looks increasingly bleak.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 July 2020 at 8:49 am

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